Tuesday, June 12, 2007

collateral damaged: the killer

A modified version appears on Desicritics.org

I submit that the core appeal of The Killer (in which we give you the pioneering rip-off of Michael Mann's Collateral by the Dhaaper Duo of Hasnain Hyderabadwala and Raksha Mistry and not the John Woo classic) lies in how subliminally Irrfan and Zakir Hussain seem to be undermining every pore of Emraan Hashmi's being on film. Listen carefully to the dialogues and you might walk away from this farce with a smile of satisfaction. While the Liplocking Loser preens, pretends to drive a taxi and offers enough proof that he's as capable of acting as men are of giving birth, Irrfan and Zakir Hussain deliver their bits with paycheque-earning delicious slices of stoked ham.

Zakir Hussain's interpretation of JABBAR (the capital letters come from the strange choice of case in the middle of a newspaper headline seen in the movie) derives from all the footage of Brando's egoistically extravagant contribution as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now combined with the axiom that just being in the same frame as Emraan Hashmi would beat standing in the middle of the dumping ground at Deonar. Irrfan's character, since it's based on one of the two main characters in Mann's original, gets some help from the writer's department. Hyderabadwala and Mistry take the prevailing Vincent, rechristen him as the strong Vikram, give him a passport in the name of Roopchand Swaroopchand, confer upon him a varied taste in music (Begum Akhtar, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, remixes), an interest in urdu poetry and even give Irrfan a chance to sing (which, in keeping with the character, would invite responses like "aaj gaane kii zid naa karo"). Did I mention that the two things his smart-talking wisecrack-spouting Intel Centrino Duo-using contract killer doesn't like are garamii kaa mahiinaa aur A/C me.n pasiinaa? The aforementioned laptop is also the victim of the most egregious bit of product placement in a while. It's bad enough that you can read and figure out what laptop it is; what's worse is that the filmmakers choose to cater to the reading-impaired market (the grotesque subtitles cater to the hearing-impaired cognitively dysfunctional segment of the populace) by giving Hashmi's character the subtle line " Intel Centrino Duo; Good Choice."

Which brings us to Hashmi himself. His presence in the film is assurance that Bollywood refuses to abandon its desire to make the "star" (a term loosely applied lest it offend reasonably good-looking and more deserving peons in government offices around the country) more important than the character. Hashmi plays a cab driver (first gulp) named Nikhil Joshi (second gulp). The name has no bearing on what are essentially the same rabbits jumping out of the same rejected magic hat that he peddles for his multitude of adoring fans. The effeminate woman-abusing platypus is rewarded by the writers with an annoying pet phrase ("correct boluu.N?") and invocations like "e hello! hameshaa khulii rahane waalii khi.Dakii!"

Which was addressed to Riya, played by Nisha "Strut-My-Stuff" Kothari, the latest bag of chaff from RGV's Factory (whose assembly line has been producing only interesting character actors and mostly moronic lead players). She's a bar dancer -- an inspired migration by the writers of this flick from the seemingly less noble federal prosecutor played by Jada Pinkett Smith in the original. Kothari embellishes the sparse opening credits in a dance number set to abhii to mai.n jawaan huu.N with her brazen jiggle and wiggle. Had this been the extent of her involvement in this star vehicle for the ragpickers, one could have rested easy. Alas, she attempts to act. This proves to be a development as disastrous, perhaps, as India's exit from the recent World Cup was to television advertising.

This wet dog gets a bonus shower thanks to the inclusion of a Dubai cop who utters lines in Urdu and then proceeds to translate them into simple Hindi, a counter official who thinks he's God's gift to cool, the predictable Bollywood song sequitur that transports our hero to the sylvan desert and the brilliant deduction made by investigating officials that Vikram is a professional killer simply based on the bodies found. A glimmer of hope comes when the film features a clip from the Sunny Deol starrer Indian featuring the classic snatch of dialogue " mai.n sirf ek police officer nahii.n huu.N; indian huu.N ." Alas, 'tis but a glimmer. If you're still thinking of catching this reeling migraine, I have a tip and a reference. The tip is, dear worshipper of Hashmi's stubble that he does not indulge in his trademark unobfuscated osculations in this film (this is revealed at the end when he says to the drooling camera, "abhii nahii.n"). The reference is to a Gaalib quote that Vikram drops in the film: dil-e-naadaa.N tujhe huaa kyaa hai.

Given that Hyderabadwala and Mistry are devotees of the Bhatt Camp of Inspired Filmmaking, their second release The Train [more about that earlier] is also a filch. The source is the Clive Owen starrer Derailed, which already found a local cousin in Gautham Menon's Pachaikili Muthucharam [more about that here]. Irony rears its ugly head thanks to the rest of the film's composite title: Some lines should never be crossed. Cross ye kiyaa re, kiyaa re!

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.